What Is a Genetically Modified Food? – Instant Egghead #45


In the last several years we’ve seen some
strange genetically modified organisms. Pigs that glow in the dark,
chickens that grow without feathers, and even goats that produce
spider silk proteins. But what really gets people riled up
are genetically modified foods. The prospect of eating somebody’s
science project turns the stomach of those who aspire to eat so-called
“whole” or “natural” foods. But what does “genetically modified”
mean anyways? And how are those foods created? To answer those questions we need to
go back in time about 10,000 years. That’s when people first started
domesticating animals and cultivating plants
for food. By picking organisms with desirable
traits and mating them together over and over again, people
were able to mold species to meet their dietary needs. The classic example is corn, which
started out as a tropical grass called Teosinthe with small,
nearly inedible kernels. Over thousands of years, ancient farmers
in Mexico transformed the grass into the delicious, starchy treat
we like to eat today. We now know those ancient
farmers were manipulating the DNA of the
Teosinte plant. As few as five changes
to it’s genome, the long strands of DNA
that encode for proteins create the dramatic differences
we see between Teosinthe and corn. Scientists call this process
“artificial selection,” and it’s made all kinds of
unappetising plants edible, from wheat to rice to almonds
and bananas. What’s different about modern
genetically modified foods is the speed and precision with which
we can make changes. Now, instead of selectively
breeding for traits, we can go directly to the DNA
responsible, snip it out and transplant it into newly developing
plants and animals. If these snippets come from the same
species, scientists call the new organism “cisgenic.” “Cis” means “the same.” But if the DNA comes from a completely
different plant or animal, scientists call the new organism
“transgenic.” “Trans” means to cross. Those florescent pigs, they glow
green because they contain a gene from a luminescent
jellyfish. And in the last 20 years, we’ve begun
to see the food equivalent. Corn that makes bacterial toxins
poisonous to pests, tomatoes that make the antifreeze
proteins from fish, and even cows that produce
human milk. So you may be wondering if this overt
kind of manipulation is safe. Well all of the GM foods currently
on the market have been thoroughly tested. But the verdict is still out on
some of the more exotic transgenic pairings. Personally, I’m waiting for a tomato
that I can cut in the dark. For Scientific American’s
Instant Egg Head, I’m Eric Olson.


100 Responses

  1. Blackula TheEvilOyo

    December 9, 2013 1:56 pm

     What a load, Selective breeding is not GM, but plants encoded to produce tons of salicylitic acid and glyphosate that makes people sick is.

  2. Carlos Eddi

    December 10, 2013 11:43 am

    If you are interesting in learning about genetically modified foods and cancer therapy, take this free online course.


  3. Kay Emily

    December 11, 2013 9:43 pm

    Way to use your words in order to manipulate people into thinking GMO's are harmless without mentioning the real dangers of eating GMO foods and animals.

  4. Mary Aguirre

    December 16, 2013 9:49 am

    We have not been eating GM vegg all along!! We've been eating hybridized veggies aka selective breeding!! Which is totally different from genetically modifying food using things like ecoli to break through cell walls and interbreeding different species never meant to be together, like a flounder and a tomato!! This is such a crock of crap your telling people in this video!! Stop lying and tell people the truth about your freaky science experiments that are making people and our planet sick!!!!! This is a strait up lie "Scientific America"!! I'm disgusted at your blatant willingness to be dishonest…. More people everyday are waking up and pretty soon your GMO garbage will be a thing of the past… Your destroying the Earth!! Is it really worth it??!!

  5. muaythaiguy6669

    December 22, 2013 12:56 am

    Wow this guy is such a bullshit artist. Everyone go to NONGMOPROJECT and check out the facts for yourself.

  6. Kelsey Peyton

    January 17, 2014 10:09 pm

    Hybrids and GMO are conpletely different things, I feel like you probably confused some people by i correctly explaining hybridization and comparing them to GMOS

  7. Bing Headlines

    February 1, 2014 2:32 am

    G.m.O is bad for us all and thats what i learnt on this help full blog www.whatisgmo.blogspot.com

  8. honestly dishonest

    February 17, 2014 3:48 am

    There is still alooot of information that is just a mess dealing with GM and GMO. It is so hard to find legit and credible information on what is really GM and GMO for a English paper. So people stop saying that GMOs are safe, this is still a new unknown discovering in this area in science. 

  9. TheRoninshaman

    February 20, 2014 8:17 pm

    Precision is a lie. All the foods currently on the market have been thoroughly tested (only by the companies that sell them). This is propaganda people. Wake UP!!!

  10. Daniel Andrade

    March 14, 2014 2:47 am

    We were not modifying genetically, that is ARTIFICIAL SELECCION not TRANSGENESIS!!! They are completely different. In seleccion, you SELECT natural occurring ALLELES! No mutagenesis induced or anything like that, it's all natural.

    On the other hand, in TRANSGENESIS, you INTRODUCE a complete unrelated foreign gene that is used to give a trait the plant does not naturally have, MOSTLY pesticide resistance (Round up, BT, etc). Not only that, you're INTRODUCING a vectorial system with foreign POTENT VIRAL promoters that randomly lands in the plant's genome and that could have an effect in the plant's gene regulation. In mammalian cells such disturbance in gene regulation can cause cancer or other diseases, we don't know if this have an effect in the metabolome of the plant and thus a long term in human health. In addition, those vectors have additional genes such antibiotic resistance. Because these plants can tolerate pesticides like Round Up, the POISON becomes part of the plant that WE later EAT. Also, during transgenesis, you undifferentiate the plant tissue (generally a piece of leaf) into an AMORPHOUS TUMOR, after selecting with high dosis of antibiotics, then you treat it with a bunch of hormones to recover a plant out of that. Where are the epigenetics studies after such DRAMATIC ALTERATIONS??? I think we all know what happened to Dolly, the clone sheep! Basically she was born as if she was too old and died horribly! There is no way you can compare the two. That's just plain Monsanto bullshit!

  11. Donald Duck

    April 9, 2014 3:50 am

    all you say is that its been tested so its okay,  so what about the French testresults showing that modified corn produces cancer?… well

  12. Clover Vue

    May 16, 2014 6:06 pm

    People that say this stuff is safe go buy and eat it everyday and feed it to your kids, after 1 year come reply to me how your doing

  13. Eddie King

    June 10, 2014 4:21 pm

    Yup. I have been eating those genetically modified bananas for 52 years and feeling great. So you can stick that conspiracy theory crap where the sun don't shine.

  14. Péter Csomós

    June 11, 2014 3:18 pm

    Mr Eric Olson cut the crap, turn on a light bulb so you can see the tomato you are cutting and leave nature alone you shame of humanity!

  15. RichardGMoss

    July 24, 2014 6:51 pm

    the same people who have been ordering a double bacon cheese burger, fries and a Coke are shocked when they are told that the wheat is GM. Come on, get real people.

  16. TheDaniel366Cobra

    October 8, 2014 2:26 pm

    Every bit of food getting down to our bowels is quickly attacked by a multitude of enzymes. As we chew, amylases start breaking down starch into dextrin. When the food mass gets to the stomach, it is doused with very potent hydrochloric acid, the proteins curdle and denaturate, before being clipped into small bits by a protease called pepsin. In the duodenum, the resulting half-digested mass mixes with bile from the gallbladder and enzymes from the pancreas. The bile emulgates fats, turning them into tiny droplets, after which pancreatic lipase breaks them into glycerine and fatty acids, which are absorbed into the lymph by the intestine; the pancreatic peptidase called tripsin finishes destroying the proteins down to amino acids, which are further absorbed into the bloodstream; pancreatic amylase completely destroys dextrins to glucose, which is also absorbed; and finally, nucleases cut any genetic material (DNA or RNA) entering the duodenum into single nucleotides, which are the same for all species of animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. The nucleotides are absorbed and utilized. That is why GM food is perfectly safe – no harm can be done to our organism by some extra genetic material. It will get cut and processed, like any other DNA coming into our GI tract. Relax.

  17. GoldenAfrican

    October 10, 2014 8:12 am

    DO NOT MESS wITH MOTHER NATURE , NEVER ENDS wELL. only she knows things that will enable survival.

  18. M Allen

    October 22, 2014 5:38 pm

    Artificial selection is not the same as switching genes between organisms.  Anyone who equates them is an idiot. 

  19. Skepti Cat

    January 7, 2015 3:46 am

    What do INFORMED Russian's and Europeans have to say about frankenfoods?
    Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently announced that Russia will no longer import GMO products, stating that the nation has enough space, and enough resources to produce organic food.
    European Union one step closer to law on national GMO crop bans.
    Members of the European Parliament on November 11 backed a plan to allow nations to ban genetically modified crops on their soil, even if they are given approval to be grown in the European Union, raising the chance their use will remain limited on the continent.

  20. Skepti Cat

    January 7, 2015 3:53 am

    In reading the comments I have to wonder, why is all the foul language coming from the PRO-GMO's crowd?

  21. RainAngel111

    February 3, 2015 8:49 am

    what anti-GMO people need to understand, is that it's not the fact that it's genetically modified that makes it potentially dangerous, it's the gene being inserted. I totally understand someone being unsettled about eating food with "anti-freeze from fish" in it. Of course, it isn't really that simple, but that's why we test things. These foods HAVE been tested. It's a misconception spread by anti-GMO publications that these foods have not been tested at all. The FDA is not an evil corporation conspiring to kill you all by letting dangerous food in the market, it does expect real tests on these foods first before letting them on the market.

    The current scientific consensus is that GMO's are safe. Each new mutation undergoes it's own safety testing because of course, all GMO's are different depending on what gene is inserted. If we completely ban them simply because of fear mongering, we're losing out on the next generation of technology. GMO's have the capacity to revolutionize our world in the same way the first agricultural revolution did, and could even be a step towards developing technology to reduce climate change. We could develop trees that grow extra fast and consume a high amount of CO2. Plant them inside urban centers, atop buildings, and you'll reduce the local greenhouse gases. 

  22. RainAngel111

    February 3, 2015 9:05 am

    It's hilarious to see people claiming that this guy is a puppet, or spewing propaganda. All he is doing is explaining what GMO's are. That's just the facts.

  23. Jamriang Jindawed

    February 23, 2015 7:50 am

    Next you will say that Monsanto is a benevolent organization interested in preventing human hunger. You can keep your tomato, I will just turn the light on to cut mine.
    Water Buffalo

  24. Adrian Brent

    February 26, 2015 2:42 am

    Wow, scientism, bs.

    What happen since the intro of GMO products:
    Allergies up.
    Gastro disorders up
    Crop UP!! 155 -188 an acre !!!the first 3 years then the pest adapt. (I farmed expensive ass GM corn)
    Mega pest, me and my neighbor had to switch to rice and wheat, until cotton worms would die.

    Not to mention, I cant bin-run my seeds, I have to pay for contamination, and some grain elevator will not take it.

    Know are farmer against GMO, No we think the idea is great.

    Its just way WAY to freaking early.

    And the ones they say it is safe, are paid representatives of Bayer and Monsanto.

    I feed GM corn to my chickens and they ALL got egg disorders or where dry shelling, it was blamed on a lung virus, (which I never hate before)  but when I stopped it cleared up in about 3 weeks.

    Just because the source has science in its name doesn't make it reputable.

    And if you think in BS, ask any farmer in Phillipines Or Mainland China Or India, REALLY ask india.

  25. Tadeh Mirzakhanian

    May 9, 2015 3:11 am

    For the love of money is the root of all evil…

    1Timothy 6:10

    The rest who are PRO-GMO'S are simply confused. Not everything natural is good for you, true! But everything synthetic is definitely bad for you. Yes, Aspirins and Nyquils are included my friends.

  26. Sharon Puryear

    May 26, 2015 4:18 pm

    I find this topic on GMO's interesting.  Cows that produce human milk?  I know we've been ingesting GMO's for years.

  27. Laurie Olson

    June 2, 2015 9:08 pm

    Nobody has been testing what this stuff does to our Human Microbiome.  Watch Microbiome Madness right here on YouTube and think about this again.  Short term studies aren't good enough and the long term population study isn't looking good when you compare the health of Americans Canadian and US to that of people in the UK where they have labeling or banning of GMOs.  We have opted out of this science experiment.

  28. Greg Last

    June 10, 2015 11:33 am

    I'd like to see these supposed studies to show GMOs are safe. Never ever seen one. None have ever been presented to the FDA, but that's okay, former Monsanto employees run that dept.

  29. Free Quaint Seas

    September 16, 2015 3:31 pm

    Idk man why does the FDA approve both food and drugs? More than half the things on store shelves are NOT approved by the FDA. If you read the labels they put on there for you.

  30. Save Indian varieties

    October 4, 2015 11:52 am

    Stupid fellow I guess ur a promoter of GMO and ur working for Monsanto. A corn is a corn a grass is a grass. Everything was created by God and the look and feel of animals or trees will change according to the environment like Americans/ Europeans looking white and Africans looking black and Indians looking moderate color. So, stop playing with God's creation. Why can't u in this 60-80 years of age enjoy God's creation and before dieing if possible help his creation like plating seeds, if u r not interested then die like that. Please, for God's sake stop ur play on genes the code of God.

  31. Vlad T

    October 22, 2015 1:55 pm

    The main theme by you people who buy hats in the latest tin foil styles.

    "We demand proof that GMOs are safe, because we know they aren't."
    (Substantial proof is provided)

    Answer 1: "You are a Monsanto paid shill."
    Answer 2: "You need to do real research, not ones by the FDA." (Still have no idea what "real" research is).
    Answer 3: "The Illuminati have blinded you, and someday you will mutate into the walking dead, and only us who eat gluten-free paleolithic vegan diets will be all that stands between the zombies and the destruction of the human race."

  32. Karina Nalbandyan

    April 12, 2016 12:08 am

    Just can't believe that he is actually promoting this crap. He can eat this poison all he wants, I would rather stick to natural food. And please do not compare what our ancestors did to what the scientists are doing today. It's completely different.

  33. Jared High

    April 24, 2016 1:24 am

    lets get some things straight here, When did you see a glow in the dark pig?!(you must have been dreaming about zombies) There is nothing like a featherless chicken unless you pluck it! If you are against gmo's you should be against any kind of technological advancements also! By the way the world is only about 6000 years old not 10 thousand years, and if you dont believe that read God's Word, you will learn alot

  34. Chukwuebuka Agu

    May 31, 2016 7:37 am

    I just don't understand why these guyz keep playing with NATURE,…these so called scientists are gradually putting an END to HUMAN race!

  35. The Extreme Reality Puppet Show

    August 1, 2016 10:18 pm

    Genetically Engineered poison is actually aptly called ANTI-FOOD; it is the antithesis of actual nourishment called food. AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE FOLKS!

  36. Arameh

    August 12, 2016 8:57 pm

    I don't know if this was a troll but I LAUGHED and then laughed some more. LOL. You forgot to mention humans laying eggs and giving birth to a full calf.

  37. dede

    October 6, 2016 6:25 pm

    Can you direct your viewers to the studies that show that
    GMO food is safe for human consumption? I was not aware those were around. I thought they actually are slowly killing us and our animals

  38. Phil Ad

    November 10, 2016 5:05 am

    Define "thoroughly tested". GMO companies are responsible for testing safety of GMOs and not the FDA. You cannot say it is "thoroughly tested" if the maker is also the tester.

  39. Microbe Bear

    November 22, 2016 9:22 pm

    [sarcasm] This is exactly what I am learning in school, and guess what they are teaching us (surprise, surprise)?! "Oh yes, I'm sure GMOs are safe." Now to be real: to quote the words of my uncle, "If it was meant to be in there, it would have been in there." As a Christian, God comes above man's take on science. I am sure that if God had felt it was safe or okay, he would have put those particular genes in our crops. On the other hand, I find it significant that one of my friend's sisters is a complete celiac when on North American soil, but European (take note that Europeans, for the most part, are much stricter with "new" things than North American countries) gluten products agree with her body just fine. I've heard some similar affirmations from others as well. Also, selective breeding is much different from all the "junk" that they do with living organisms now – in selective breeding, at least the genes stayed in the organism they were made for; all the transgenic organisms nowadays are given characteristics from who-knows-where. You can't base your faith on science; it's completely fallible, and it can take years to discover that something that was considered safe is actually not safe.


    January 20, 2017 2:29 pm

    DID YOU KNOW AROUND 60 OR SO YEARS AGO THAT SMOKING WAS SAFE TOO, BECAUSE THE LOBBIED FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION SAID SO??? COMPANIES EVEN USED CARTOONS TO ADVERTISE TO CHILDREN! Oh, even though any smoke was a known carcinogenic and it irrates the lungs it was considered safe until later when people develop lung; heart disease, and various cancers. I guess some people still believe the earth is square, and the titanic is still floating if thet do not realize the FDA does not protect Americans from chronic disease causing substances. Maybe because they never been outside of the country into a normal industrialized country where chronic disease is not running rampant. Let's take a look at some statics, since the introduction high frutose corn syrup which is derived from Monstano's GMO corn that has been in America's diet around the mid 90s diabetes and obesity has DOUBLED IN THE U.S.A IN 20 YEARS! Some people will think something stupid like a lack of exercise, if that was the case than why are energetic fat kids still fat? Kids are always active. Some people clearly haven't done the research of Monsanto. First of all his product H & orange is already responsible for killing 400,000 Vietnamese and some of our soliders with it. I used to know a solider who have been exposed and developed cancer in those areas later. Second of all this maniacs previous employee is the vice president of the lobbied FDA to place scientific opinion over scientific facts. (Only in America can a billionaire can poison an entire country while making billions, instead of being liable for the deaths in Vietnam, and we think ISIS is bad? Look I can right a book about lab rats that died being force feed (rats where smart enough not to eat it) weeks of GMO food, but that would take forever and I advise anyone to look at private biotect research (not government funded crap) such as "Responsible Technology Institute". Some people are not as stupid as the other sheeple think and they see all of the cancer, ADD, ADH, diabetes, mentally ill, birth defects, infertility, and obesity around them, especially the last 25 years. I find it strange we know we now have elaborate health care services that was just so convinently created for us that is now socialized

  41. greg r

    February 17, 2017 6:05 pm

    I find it humorous that the individual transforming the masses into "instant eggheads" actually has an egghead himself

  42. Beta Destiny

    June 1, 2017 12:55 am

    GMO= more cancer.
    More cancer= more chemo.
    More chemo= more money.
    Who gives a shit about humans?
    Let's get rich.

  43. Cristina Garofalo

    November 7, 2017 11:18 pm

    Selective breeding and GMO's are different things. While there is an unanswerable debate around GMO'S I think the main issue with this video is that it makes GMO's seem natural by comparing it to a system, selective breeding, that in reality in incredibly different and should not be correlated with.

  44. SydneyChromatic

    April 1, 2019 11:22 pm

    I can guarantee you that if this dude found a tomato he could cut in the dark in a grocery store he would be the last one to eat it

  45. SydneyChromatic

    April 1, 2019 11:25 pm

    Who here watching this video is from Europe? Could you please let me know what you think of this video?


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